Ohio killings suspect waives right to speedy trial
Associated Press Writer
CLEVELAND (AP) – A registered sex offender charged with killing 11 women and hiding their remains in and around his home agreed Wednesday to let police fence off the house with barbed wire to preserve evidence.
Anthony Sowell, who pleaded not guilty last week by reason of insanity, appeared in handcuffs and dressed in an orange jail jumpsuit at the pretrial hearing.
He responded with few words to the judge’s questions, waiving his right to a speedy trial to accommodate his new defense team. The waiver pushes back any trial until mid-2010.
Cuyahoga County assistant prosecutor Richard Bombik said the state hasn’t ruled out asking the court to allow the trial jury to visit the Cleveland house. Health considerations would be a factor in any decision about a jury walkthrough, he said. He did not elaborate.
During the hearing, both sides agreed to let the city halt the 24-hour police guard outside the home and fence it off. Bombik said the security arrangements would allow the defense to make its own check of the house. Police have said they have completed their search of the premises.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Timothy McGinty approved defense requests to provide money to hire a private investigator and mental-health consultant. But the judge stopped short of issuing a defense-requested gag order that would have barred attorneys and police in the case from publicly commenting.
Authorities say Sowell, 50, lured women to his home and attacked them. The remains of 10 women and a skull were found in the residence or buried in the yard.
Sowell faces 85 counts including murder, rape, assault and corpse abuse in the slayings and in the attacks on three women who survived. He could get the death penalty if convicted of any of the killings.
Also Wednesday, Mayor Frank Jackson appointed a commission to review police policies for handling sexual assault and missing-person reports, but it will not look into the Sowell case. Some relatives of victims complained about police handling of missing-person reports. Police say some victims were never reported missing.